Where To Catch Up With Your Friend Who Out-Summered You12 places to take your friend who spent the summer traveling and can’t shut up about it.
The summer is almost (officially) over, and for every one of your trips to the shore, backyard BBQ's with your family, and scoops of water ice, there’s a friend who's been jet-setting around the globe. Now they’re back and can’t wait to fill you in on where “real” truffles come from and what Shakira’s Colombian house looks like by moonlight. Here are the 12 places to bring your friend who one-upped your summer in every possible way.
First, they tell you the cherry blossoms on Kelly Drive are mid compared to the ones in Kyoto. Now they want to teach you the proper way to use chopsticks. Head to Royal Sushi & Izakaya in Queen Village where your friend can ask the chefs where they source their fish. It’s the best sushi in Philly, so it might measure up to what they had in Tokyo. Share a few dishes, like pan-seared pork gyoza, splurge on chutoro caviar (a mix of fatty Spanish bluefin and Osetra caviar), or try to snag a reservation at the omakase in the back. Either way, they’ll leave happy and Philly will seem more respectable to them. Almost.
You’ve made it through the first hour of their camera roll slideshow and three fun facts about Bangkok (its native name is the longest in the world). You need a drink and they need Thai food as good as the “hole-in-the-wall beach spot” in Phuket they can’t remember the name of. Head to Kalaya in Fishtown where you can get chewy sakoo moo dumplings, fragrant seafood dishes, and stir fries like the sweet and spicy khiaw waan kalaya. Top it off with a coconut-filled cocktail, a chilly mound of shaved ice, and let them tell you how it reminds them of a mountain range they also (unfortunately) have 20 pictures of.
Sure, they’d love to meet you at “Barthelona” on East Passyunk. You order the paella, and before you can blink, they tell you “It’s "pah-EL-yah,” while claiming Penelope Cruz told them so herself. Before you bail, remember—there’s an endless amount of small plates, excellent seafood dishes (like the juicy whole roasted branzino), and wines to make listening to them roll their “r’s” tolerable.
You posted a picture with Swoop at the Eagles' open practice, they posted a selfie with Cate Blanchett’s blur in Cannes, and it’s been war ever since. They’ve come back from the French Riviera with two things: an awful I Heart Van Gogh shirt and an advanced degree in rosé. Instead of suffering through their sommelier-in-training rant sober, take them to Bella Vista’s Good King Tavern. They have great traditional dishes like steak frites, socca, and garlicky escargot. Plus, the wine list is long enough to get you buzzed when they start going on and on about nodes and perfect grape size.
Although they only spent one week in London, they have to get used to driving on the right side of the road again. You can listen to their list of Wimbledon celebrity sightings at home, or you can head to The Dandelion. The UK-themed pub is full of tartan bar seats, old paintings of hounds, and other details that will encourage them to casually drop “quid” and “cuppa” into conversation. With a menu that includes fish and chips and a lamb shepherd’s pie that’s oozing with cheddar cheese, they should feel right at home.
They rented a beach house in Jamaica with an ocean view, a jacuzzi, and played dancehall nonstop. Now they gag when you mention the Jersey Shore and claim their feet can only comfortably touch white sand. We don’t know if their new persona as island royalty is permanent, but we do know where you can get some great jerk wings, curry goat, and tender oxtails. Head to this takeout-only spot in Francisville for massive platters ranging from $13-$20, and while you wait, they can fill you in on their new jacked, jobless fiancé they met on the beach.
You know that extremely competitive friend? You told them about your love of dogs and they told you they own an animal rescue? Well, they just got back from Rome and it’s been a week of speeches about America needing midday naps (ok, true) and asking staff if the pasta is handmade everywhere you go. The Victor Café in Passyunk Square has enough bistro tables, checkered tablecloths, and live opera to make them think they’re down the street from Trevi Fountain. They have a menu full of shareable Italian dishes like creamy vegetable risotto and salty veal saltimbocca that will get them out of their post-vacation misery, and an Italian spritz lineup that will help you with constantly having to hear about it.
They’re endlessly reminding you the only body of water you’ve seen all summer is the Schuylkill—plus puddles from open fire hydrants. Meanwhile, they’ve been laying out on boat decks, jet skiing, and quoting “My job is just beach” from Barbie. This means they’re in the mood for oysters, shrimp baskets, and chowders. They have all of that and more at Pearl’s Oyster Bar in Reading Terminal Market. It’s pretty popular so plan ahead. But with some of the best seafood in town, and a space crowded enough to remind them of that Miami party boat, we doubt they’ll mind.
You can almost lose count of the number of friends that went to Tulum, Cabo, or Cancun this summer. And even though they only dined at the resort’s mediocre buffet, they now believe every taco in Philly tastes like cardboard. To offer them the only (actual) good taco they’ve had in weeks, head to South Philly’s La Canasta. From classic al pastor and carne tacos to cheesy enchiladas, everything wrapped in a flour tortilla here is cooked to perfection.
After navigating the pickup area at PHL, they get in your car and immediately complain, “The Greek Islands are too hot and you have to use a boat to get to them.” It’s probably the last thing you want to hear since streaming Only Murders in the Building was the highlight of your summer. Instead of heading home, take them to Zorba’s Tavern in Fairmount. They have silky hummus, gyros, tender roasted lamb, and other dishes that will convince them that even though you didn’t have the same views as them, you ate on the same level.
Instead of going on that Southern road trip, you stuck around Philly. And the closest you got to anything similar was blasting Luke Bryan while trapped on Lincoln Drive. You need a spot serving comfort dishes good enough to put you in a cozy food coma. Stop by SOUTH in Spring Garden for a peppery chicken and turkey gumbo that will make them realize they drove a quarter of America just to have the same food.
It’s hard to console your friends after they’ve spent the summer hopping from the Governor’s Ball and Lollapalooza to a few Beyoncé shows. Now they can only listen to live versions of songs and mention setlists nonstop. Take them to a place where they’re bound to see a few drum sets, keyboards, and guitars—Midtown Village’s Time. It’s an exciting American spot that has live music almost every day of the week, plus pasta, sandwiches, and shareable mains like braised short ribs. When it’s nice out, they open the side doors and windows, so it can be your friend’s first open-air music experience of the summer without the long lines at concessions or the bathroom.